Table of Content
- What is Ransomware?
- How ransomware affects Your Business?
- What are the Types of Ransomware?
- How do Hackers use Ransomware?
- What are some methods of prevention against Ransomware?
Ransomware attacks have become a major security concern worldwide, with businesses and individuals becoming vulnerable to these malicious online threats. With the amount of data we store on our smartphones, laptops and other connected devices in today’s digital world, ransomware has emerged as an insidious force that can encrypt valuable files and demand large ransom payments for release.
This blog post examines what exactly ransomware is and how it can affect organizations and individual users. We also discuss security measures you can take to protect yourself from these malicious attacks.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is malicious software designed to extort money from victims by encrypting their files or locking them out of their systems. Once the ransomware has infected a computer, the attacker demands payment for a decryption key to unlock the files. Ransomware can affect individuals and businesses. Moreover, victims are often left with the difficult option of paying the attackers or risking the loss of valuable data. In addition, some ransomware variants threaten to release sensitive information to the public if the ransom is not paid. With the rise of cybercrime, protecting your computer and network against ransomware attacks is crucial. This can be achieved by keeping software up to date, using anti-virus software, and regularly backing up your data.
Ransomware is now the most common and noticeable form of malware. Hospitals, cities, and various organizations have suffered from recent ransomware attacks, which have disrupted essential services and caused severe damage.
How Ransomware Affects Your Business?
Businesses of all sizes are increasingly concerned about ransomware attacks. Furthermore, these attacks are frequently featured in the news due to their high-profile nature. Consequently, the impact of these attacks on affected businesses can be significant, affecting their operations, finances, and reputation.
Business Financial Loss:
In case the ransomware encrypts your business-critical files (which is likely to happen), your business may have to be closed for several days or weeks as you attempt to restore your data. As seen in the case of the Colonial Pipeline, a similar event occurred. Consequently, due to the ransomware attack, the company decided to shut down its operations as a precautionary measure. This decision resulted in gas shortages on the East Coast of the U.S.
Business Reputation Harm:
News of the attack will likely become public; if it does, it could seriously harm your company’s reputation. The attack may cause a breach of your current customers’ confidential information, which could negatively impact your ability to keep them and attract new ones in the future.
Business Owner Pay to Ransom:
As a business, you will need to make a difficult decision of whether or not to pay the ransom. Despite the global recommendations from regulatory agencies against paying ransoms, some businesses opt for this approach when they realize there are no other viable options.
If you’re attacked, there’s a risk of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom without any assurance that the attackers will unlock your data.
The expenses resulting from a ransomware attack can vary depending on the attack method employed, the amount of encrypted data, and the nature of your business. Small Businesses with sparse amounts of data could just have to pay a few hundred dollars to have their data back, whereas major enterprises might have to pay millions of dollars in ransom.
Business also pay Regulatory Fines:
You could be subject to regulatory fines if sensitive customer data is compromised in the attack – an added financial burden in an already lamentable situation.
What are the Types of Ransomware?
Historically, the most common types of ransomware attacks are Locker and Crypto. Double and triple extortion techniques, Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS), leakware, and scareware have become equally prevalent.
LockBit is malware that shares its name with the criminal group responsible for creating it. The LockBit group earns money by selling this malware to other operators through a model called Ransomware as a service (Raas). “The malware has been advertised as the fastest encryption software worldwide on underground forums.”
The purpose of this ransomware is to quickly encrypt large organizations to avoid detection by security appliances and IT/SOC teams.
Microsoft released patches for four vulnerabilities in their Exchange servers in March 2021. A new type of ransomware called DearCry is exploiting four recently revealed security flaws in Microsoft Exchange.
DearCry ransomware encrypts specific file types. After encrypting the files, DearCry will display a message demanding ransom. The message will contain instructions for the users or Business owners to send an email to the ransomware operators to know how to decrypt their files.
The group known as Lapsus is a ransomware gang based in South America, and they have been identified as responsible for cyberattacks on several important targets. The cyber gang is notorious for using extortion as a tactic and threatening to release sensitive information unless their victims meet their demands. The group claims to have successfully hacked into Nvidia, Samsung, Ubisoft, and other companies. They utilize stolen source code to camouflage malware files as authentic ones.
The ransomware variant called Ryuk is a highly specific example. Hackers often send spear phishing emails or use stolen user login information to access enterprise systems through Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). Ryuk encrypts specific types of files on an infected system, excluding those important for the computer to function properly. Afterwards, it displays a ransom message.
One of the most high priced types of ransomware in existence is called Ryuk. It has gained notoriety for its high cost. On average, Ryuk demands ransoms that exceed $1 million. The cybercriminals responsible for Ryuk primarily target enterprises with the financial means to fulfil their demands.
How do Hackers use Ransomware?
Ransomware can make victims pay money to hackers using two different methods.
- Data Encryption
- Data Theft
Ransomware attacks involve a hacker encrypting the victim’s files to demand a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption of those files. Ransomware variants use different methods to encrypt files, but they usually infiltrate a system and scan for certain file types. The victim must pay a ransom to receive a decryption key for file recovery. However, there is no guarantee that the decryption key will be effective.
Ransomware can now spread by itself to other devices on the network by taking advantage of their weaknesses.
Encrypting data alone is not sufficient for ransomware hackers to earn money anymore. When ransomware attacks occur, advisors urge the affected parties not to pay the ransom, notify the authorities, and reconcile any losses. Hackers started stealing data in addition to encrypting it.
Before encrypting the victim’s data, the hacker searches the infected device for important and confidential documents/data and then sends themselves a copy. After stealing the data, the attacker uses it to pressure the victim to pay the ransom. Depending on the data type, this can cause significant harm to the victim’s business and customers.
What are some methods of prevention against Ransomware?
Preventing ransomware is not easy, and there is no guaranteed method. To protect your data from intruders, you should use a comprehensive defence strategy that includes safeguards against email phishing, strong authentication measures, restricted access to the network, consistent security updates, and pre-planned methods for controlling damages.
Regular system updates:
Regularly updating your system’s security is crucial to prevent ransomware from exploiting known vulnerabilities. Furthermore, installing the newest version of your operating system (OS) and applications can help minimize the likelihood of a successful attack.
Email phishing protection:
Phishing emails commonly spread ransomware. By incorporating an advanced email security solution, you can identify and prevent harmful emails from reaching your inbox.
Strong Identity and Access Management (IAM) security:
A crucial aspect of preventing ransomware is to ensure that only authorized persons can access sensitive data. Furthermore, IAM solutions offer a centralized system to manage user accounts and credentials and thoroughly log all user activities.
Restricted permissions and limited network access:
Creating user accounts with limited access to data and services can help reduce the damage caused by ransomware in case it infiltrates the system. Additionally, segmenting your network into subnets can help limit the impact of a successful attack.
Automated, secure data backup tools:
It is important to have regular backups to restore systems in the event of an attack. Automated backup solutions are responsible for taking regular backups, while encryption ensures their security.
A robust incident response plan:
Although you can work to reduce your risk and strengthen your defenses, however there is no guarantee to prevent ransomware. Having a well-developed incident response plan is crucial to respond swiftly and efficiently in case of an attack. If other solutions don’t work, furthermore you can rely on IT Support Services to help your organization cope with the financial costs.
In conclusion, ransomware poses a significant threat to businesses and individuals and demands serious attention. It can have potentially catastrophic consequences if not properly mitigated and taken seriously. Moreover, understanding what ransomware is, how it affects your business, the types of ransomware hackers can use, and the prevention methods are all essential to protecting yourself against this cyber-attack vector. By taking steps such as implementing advanced security measures like multi-layered authentication protocols and proactive monitoring systems, you can drastically reduce the risks these malicious attacks pose. Ultimately, becoming aware of potential online threats is key to staying one step ahead. Remember, knowledge is power!